The man who served as NFL Commissioner at the time the Rooney Rule was adopted isn’t happy with the performance of the effort to increase the number of minority coaches. The man who currently serves as NFL Commissioner hopes to address that actual or perceived deficiency.
Via Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the NFL will informally expand the Rooney Rule to encompass some coordinator hires. It’s a needed move, especially with the push toward offensive coaches and the relative absence of minority coaches with expertise in coaching quarterbacks, designing playbooks and game plans, and calling plays.
The new provision will apply to coordinator vacancies under existing coaching staffs. It won’t apply when a new coach is assembling a staff.
“That wouldn’t be fair,” Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten told Maske. “I tell guys all the time that when you go in and interview [for a head coaching job], you should have your staff already together. But if there’s a situation where the head coach is already there, that’s when it would apply as a best practice.”
Wooten said that Commissioner Roger Goodell will tell owners whose teams are looking for a coordinator but not a head coach should interview at least one minority candidate. It won’t be a mandate, however.
“It has already been happening,” Wooten said. “That’s the way it has been going. That’s the reason I don’t have to push too hard on that. That’s why we called it a best practice. They seem very open to it. The Commissioner said he had no problem talking to the owners about it. He said next year we should meet before the December owners’ meeting because this year they’ve already had it and that was something he could have addressed then.”
Coordinator positions soon will open in multiple cities, either because the coordinator is fired or because the coordinator finds a head-coaching job.
The new “best practice” raises a separate set of issues in light of the possible firing or resignation of coordinators during the season. As to coaches, the Rooney Rule applies to in-season coaching hires only if the team goes outside the building for the interim coach. In most cases, the coach is promoted from within, and the Rooney Rule arises after the season ends.
For coordinators, a similar approach should apply. This means that, for example, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will be required (but not officially required) to interview at least one minority candidate before making Pat Shurmur, who inherited the job after Norv Turner resigned, the permanent offensive coordinator.